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Disney ‘Ohana at Aulani Care for the Land During Earth Month

Kanoa Kawai

by , 2022-23 Disney Ambassador, Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa

In celebration of Earth Month, cast members at Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa, along with their ‘ohana (family) took part in a Mālama ‘Aina (care for the land) work day at Na Mea Kupono Learning Center in Waialua.

Na Mea Kupono is a lo’i kalo (or taro, a tropical root vegetable) farm that practices traditional wetland taro farming with an emphasis on sustainability and living pono (righteous). Cast members spent the day weeding, harvesting kalo, cleaning and prepping it to make poi, a staple food in Hawaiian cuisine that the people of Hawai’i believe is a kupuna (ancestor) and connects them to the ‘aina (land). Along with the hard work that took place, cast members had the opportunity to reconnect with the ‘aina, learn Hawaiian history and experience Hawaiian culture. Relationships between family members as well as cast ‘ohana was strengthened during this time of laulima (working together).

Cheryl Paisa (above, second from right) from Human Resources brought her husband and two children to this experience. The Paisa ‘ohana spent most of their time cleaning the overgrown grass and taking it to the mulch area, but they truly enjoyed their time in the punawai, or freshwater spring. “It was more than what I expected! I thought I was just going to come out here and do a little bit of hard work and then go. But it was fulfilling, and it touched our hearts, for sure!” said Cheryl.

Kristen Kutzen,and her husband rake and prepare the kalo

“It’s a great day! I got to work with my hands and give back to the community,” shared Kristen Kutzen (above-left), also from Human Resources, who spent the day with her husband raking and preparing the kalo to make poi. “It was a lot of hard work but it was really fun, and we got to connect with each other and with the land.”

Ku’uipo Saturno (above-right) from Entertainment brought her husband, two sons, and cousin, spending their day preparing the lo’i to plant kalo. “This was the first time that my family and I worked at a lo’i together, and it was amazing,” Ku’uipo shared.

Kanoa along with former Disney Ambassadors join in the fun

It was truly an unforgettable time connecting with ‘ohana, cast members, the ‘aina and our culture. It’s an experience I’m looking forward to having again and again.

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